A little zander fish in someones hand

The Zander

With its distinctive spiky dorsal fin and elongated body, the Zander, often referred to as the Pike-Perch, stands as an intriguing member of the perch family. Commonly mistaken for a crossbreed between perch and pike due to its appearance, this species captivates anglers with its elusive nature. However, debunking popular belief, the Zander is not a hybrid but a unique fish in its own right.

In the United Kingdom, where many enthusiasts find joy in catching Zander, a unique challenge arises. Classified as a non-native invasive species, fisheries often discourage the live release of these fish, emphasizing the need to eradicate the Zander. Despite this, there are still venues where these beautiful fish flourish, and one such location is the local canal frequented by the Lunchtime Fisherman.

Meet David Warren, aka the Lunchtime Fisherman, a seasoned angler with a passion for his craft. Armed with his favorite Realistic Shad lures, David regularly outsmarts Zander, Perch, and Pike during his lunchtime fishing escapades. We had the opportunity to sit down with him and glean some valuable insights into the art of Zander fishing.

David Warren with a nice canal Zander

Who is the Lunchtime Fisherman​

David Warren (the lunchtime fisherman) is an experienced dedicated Angler who is passionate about his sport. Mainly fishing his local canal armed with his favourite Realistic Shad lures, if anyone knows how to catch a Zander it’s this man. He regularly outsmarts the Zander as well as Perch and Pike. He aims to get out after them every lunchtime at work and is usually quite successful at bringing them to the net.

I asked him if he had any top tips for catching Zander, this is what he came up with.

David’s Top Tips For Catching Zander

1. Location

Number one on his list of how to catch a Zander is ‘location’. Are there any Zeds home? If the Zander are not there, you will not catch them however hard you try. But do not give up, there is always hope. Look out for features such as moored-up boats, overhanging trees, and bridges.

These are all places that may well hold fish, they do like a bit of cover like most predatory species. The chances are baitfish will be sheltering in these kinds of areas. Where there is bait fish, the Zander won’t be far behind.

A moored boat on a canal
Zander like to hang around moored boats

2. The Right Rod for Zander

Number three is ‘the right rod’. Does your rod have the backbone to set the hook in a Zeds bony mouth?  The Zander really do have a bony jawline. Quite often you will have to give a strike with a bit of meaning to set the hook. Just make sure you have a rod that can manage this. There are plenty out there nowadays to choose from.  Check out a few of them here.

3. Sharp Hooks are Needed for Zander

Number four, sharpen the hooks. It sounds obvious, but because of their bony mouths, you want to use the sharpest hooks you can get your hands on. Let’s face it, you don’t want the ‘big one’ coming off due to a blunt hook.

A hook sharpener isn’t a bad thing to have in your tackle box whilst targeting Zander.

After all, it literally takes seconds to do and could be the difference between a good day and a very bad day. So let’s keep those hooks nice and sharp.

4. Cover More Water

Number four on how to catch a Zander involves some leg work. With most predator fishing it pays to cover as much water as possible, but be thorough. Don’t just do a cast here, and a cast there as such.

Spend a little time in each area. I often spend half an hour at a time in a spot if I’m confident Zeds are about. They are also quite partial to being in the margins so it’s always worth a cast or two. Too many people tend to ignore the margins. Margins can produce when all else fails, this is always worth bearing in mind. 

David with a nice little Zander from a margin

5. Use the Right Jig Head

Number five is for the use of soft lures. Jig heads come in many shapes and sizes. Use a jig head to match the depth, flow of water (if any), and wind. The weight of the jig head also noticeably affects the action of the lure. 

If the fish are more aggressive/assertive they may prefer a more erratic retrieve which can be achieved with a heavier jig head. Swap them around a bit until you find what they want on the day. Fish can be fussy buggers. What they love one day, may not be the same as the next.

Learning how to fish with chebs is a good alternative to using jig heads.

6. Use a Slow Retrieve for Zander

Number six is all about the retrieve. Ok, the retrieve can vary a lot. But for me, this kind of stands out amongst the rest and is my favourite style.

Use a steady retrieve with lots of long pauses, drag slowly along the bottom, raise sharply, and let the action of the lure and jighead impart movement on the drop, but keep in touch with the lure. By using this technique I believe you stand a better chance of banking a Zander.

7. Strike Hard at Every Tap

Number seven is to not miss a strike. Zander sometimes take very delicately and won’t let go of the lure if you’re retrieving it slowly.

It is possible to not know the fish is there. So give it a good little strike at every tap just in case. Hopefully, the hook is nice and sharp.

8. Big Means Bigger

Number eight, size matters. Bigger lures mean bigger fish…. not always!! But often! I generally find this rule works for me quite well. Match the lure to the size of Zeds you believe to be in the swim.

But if the bigger lure isn’t producing try something smaller.  This is only a general rule I follow and doesn’t always work. But it’s seriously worth a try when you are out on the bank.

9. Don’t Give Up

Number nine is to not give up just because you have caught one fish. If you’re lucky enough to catch One Zed then there’s usually more very close by, so keep going.

Cast all around the area for a good few minutes just to make sure their big brother isn’t close by. The other fish don’t always get spooked, and may still be lying in wait. So another few casts are a must.

By not giving up, you will catch fish like this one

10. Ask the Locals

Number ten, get chatting. Local knowledge is worth its weight in gold. If anyone knows how to catch a Zander it will be the locals. Don’t be afraid to ask for some tips from the local fishermen, tackle dealers and bailiffs, etc.

They are not going to give you all the details of their best swims for you to go and hammer the fish out of. But they will more than likely be very glad to pass on some valuable local knowledge.

Top tip: Keep your lures in separate containers. They can have a chemical reaction when mixed with different brands and can cause a melting effect.

Zander Can be Found Up and Down the Country​

You can currently find Zander in several different countries across the globe including, Great Britain, Europe, Siberia, and Kazakhstan. Here in England, Zander were introduced in the twentieth century into the Fens. Since then they have grown dramatically in population. They can now be found in rivers, lakes, and canals up and down our country.

Conclusion

In unraveling the secrets of Zander fishing, the Lunchtime Fisherman’s tips offer practical guidance for anglers. From choosing the right location to utilizing sharp hooks, these insights simplify the art of catching Zander.

With Zander thriving across the UK, local knowledge, quality gear, and versatile techniques emerge as key elements for success. The Lunchtime Fisherman’s commitment during his lunch breaks highlights the passion that drives anglers in the quest for these elusive predators.

David is a good Angler who puts a lot of fish on the bank. There is no guarantee by following his tips on Zander that you are going to bag up. But now you have an idea on how to catch a Zander there is a good chance they will work for you as they do for him. Hopefully putting a few more Zeds your way.

If you would like to add any tips of your own please comment below.

Cheers guys and tight lines.

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